What is Coconut Water and What are the Benefits?
WHAT IS COCONUT WATER?
Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside green, immature coconuts. Young coconuts are favoured for their water as it is tastier, plentiful in volume and easier to access by chopping the top off the softer shell. More mature coconuts have a harder husk and less water inside because it gradually solidifies to form the flesh.
Different varieties of coconut yield slightly different-tasting water depending on where they are grown.
Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes. Not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk or oil, coconut water is a clear liquid in the fruit’s center that is tapped from young, green coconuts.
It has fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than a sports drink. Ounce per ounce, most unflavored coconut water contains 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium compared to Gatorade, which has 6.25 calories, 1.75 grams of sugar, 3.75 mg of potassium, and 13.75 mg of sodium.
There are some health benefits to consuming coconut water. It’s an all-natural way to hydrate, reduce sodium, and add potassium to diets. Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diets because they don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, or dairy, so coconut water can help fill in the nutritional gaps.
Coconut water is fine for recreational athletes -- but so are plain water or sports drinks. In general, most adults don’t exercise strenuously enough to need sports drinks or coconut water because good, old-fashioned water works just fine.
If you enjoy the taste and your budget allows it, coconut water is a nutritious and relatively low-calorie way to add potassium to your diet and keep you well-hydrated.
GOOD SOURCE OF NUTRIENTS
Coconuts grow on large palm trees known scientifically as Cocos nucifera. Despite the name, the coconut is a fruit rather than a nut. Coconut water is the juice found in the center of a young, green coconut. It helps nourish the fruit.
As the coconut matures, some of the juice remains in liquid form, while the rest ripens into the solid white flesh known as coconut meat. Coconut water is produced naturally in the fruit and contains 94% water and very little fat.
It should not be confused with coconut milk, which is made by adding water to grated coconut meat. It contains about 50% water and is very high in coconut fat.
Coconuts take 10–12 months to fully mature. Coconut water typically comes from young coconuts about 6–7 months of age, although it's also found in mature fruit. An average green coconut provides about 0.5-1 cups of coconut water.
BENEFITS AGAINST DIABETES + KIDNEY STONES
Research has shown that coconut water can lower blood sugar levels and improve other health markers in diabetic animals.
Nevertheless, with three grams of fiber and a digestible carb content of only six grams per cup, coconut water can easily fit into a diabetic meal plan.
In addition, it is a good source of magnesium, which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
Drinking enough fluids is important for kidney stone prevention. Although plain water is a great choice, one study suggests that coconut water may be even better.
Kidney stones form when calcium, oxalate and other compounds combine to form crystals in the urine. These can then form stones.
In a study on rats with kidney stones, coconut water was found to keep crystals from sticking to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. It also reduced the number of crystals formed in the urine. However, this is the first study that has investigated coconut water's effects on kidney stones, and more research is needed in this area.
HELPS HEART HEALTH + BLOOD PRESSURE
Drinking coconut water may be helpful to reduce heart disease risk.
In one study, rats that consumed coconut water had reductions in blood cholesterol and triglycerides. They also experienced significant decreases in liver fat.
The same researchers conducted another study in which rats were fed a similar diet and treated with the same dosage (4 ml/100 g of body weight) of coconut water.
After 45 days, the coconut water group had a reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels that rivaled the effects of a statin drug used to lower cholesterol.
However, it's important to note that this was a very large dose. In human terms, it would be equivalent to a 150 lb (68 kg) person consuming 91 oz (2.7 liters) of coconut water per day.
Nevertheless, the finding that it reduced cholesterol as effectively as a statin drug is very impressive and should be further investigated.
It may be also be a great beverage for keeping blood pressure under control.
One small study gave coconut water to people with high blood pressure. 71% experienced significant improvements to systolic blood pressure, which is the higher number of a blood pressure reading.
Additionally, it contains an impressive 600 mg of potassium in 8 oz (240 ml). Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with high or normal blood pressure.
What's more, one animal study found that coconut water has anti-thrombotic activity, which means it should help prevent the formation of blood clots.
SHOP COCONUT WATER: